A yellow lab with a bucket of popcorn

A yellow lab with a bucket of popcorn (Photo by Pixel-Shot on Shutterstock)

People’s love for dog movies can be attributed to a complex blend of emotional, psychological, and even evolutionary factors. Dog owner or not, everyone has at least one that they love. There are more films about our furry friends than you think — some funny, some sad, and some all of the above. We at StudyFinds read through nine different expert sources to come away with the top seven best dog movies for you to watch this weekend.

Why do dog movies resonate with us?

  • Unconditional love and loyalty: Dogs are often portrayed as our best friends, offering unwavering companionship, joy, and affection. This resonates with our desire for love and belonging.
  • Emotional vulnerability: Dog movies often explore themes of heartbreak, loss, and overcoming challenges. Seeing vulnerable emotions in animals we perceive as innocent and pure can trigger empathy and emotional catharsis.
  • Humorous antics: Many dog movies feature charming and comical mishaps or adventures. Laughter is a powerful tool for relieving stress and connecting with others.
  • Anthropomorphism: We tend to project human emotions and characteristics onto animals, making them easier to relate to. This allows us to connect with the dog’s experiences on a deeper level.
  • Nostalgia and childhood memories: Dogs are often associated with happy childhood memories, triggering feelings of nostalgia and comfort.
  • Stress relief and relaxation: Studies have shown that interacting with animals, even through movies, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.

Are you ready to watch your favorite furry friends on the big screen? Don’t blame us if you shed a tear, as many of these movies hit home with our own experiences owning doggies. StudyFinds has come up with the top seven best dog movies of all time that were most recommended across nine expert reviews. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

A dog watching a movie with popcorn
A dog watching a movie with popcorn (Photo by Pixel-Shot on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Dog Movies, According To Expert Sites

1. “Old Yeller” (1957)

Unfortunately, the top choice of best dog movies may be the saddest. Based on Fred Gipson’s novel, a young boy befriends a dog only to find out he has a deadly disease. PureWow advises having your tissues handy.

Believe it or not, the boy, Travis, isn’t a fan of Yeller in the beginning. Of course, this changes and they form quite a bond. Heartstrings are pulled as you see Yeller defending his family from various threats. Movie Web claims that the end was so emotional that it impacted a whole generation of young viewers

Tough lesson, but “Old Yeller” taught kids from the fifties up until now the responsibility of owning a dog. Dog Tag Art points out that “it’s been tugging at heartstrings for half a century already.”

2. “101 Dalmations” (1961)

This is a classic! We’re talking about the animated version here. The live-action version is said to frighten the kiddos, and we don’t blame them. Glenn Close is a little creepy as Cruella. PureWow admits, however, that “both are fun, family-friendly movies that have happy endings, though, so you really can’t go wrong.”

I think it is fair to say that this is the first movie where someone becomes obsessed with a dog’s coat. It is a story of two Dalmatians and their owners in a debacle to protect themselves and their puppies from Cruella da Vil, a woman who wants to use the Dalmatian fur for fur coats. Movie Web confers that it is a love story between both dogs and humans.

“101 Dalmations” isn’t just up there in the best dog movies, it is one of the most popular Disney movies of all time. Dog Tag Art says that even though there is some suspense, it also has its fair share of laughs too. 

3. “Lady and the Tramp” (1955)

Another classic from Disney animation comes two adorable pups who fall in love over spaghetti. No scary live-action version here. PureWow says to expect these two pups fending off rats, wreaking havoc, and escaping dog pound catchers throughout the film. 

More specifically, Lady is slowly weeded out as her humans have a baby. Tramp comes to her rescue, protecting her and showing her the ropes of dog life. Movie Web agrees that this is a top-dog movie for a reason. 

This film harnesses the classic theme of proving two souls from different sides of the track can have chemistry and fall in love. Lady is a prim and proper family dog used to the easy life, while Tramp is a rough-and-tumble stray who takes her under his wing. It also has one of the most iconic scenes in movie historythe spaghetti kiss. Dog Tag Art says this sweet cartoon has definitely inspired many romantic spaghetti dinners with people trying the moment themselves. 

4. “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” (1993)

This memorable film featuring Chance, Shadow, and Sassy the Cat depicts their challenging journey to get back home from a distant ranch. You will laugh, you will cry, and your chest may be tight from anxiety at times, but this one is a heartwarming classic. After you’re finished, PureWow advises you to immediately watch the sequel “Homeward Bound II.”

This movie is actually a remake of the 1960s film of the same name. A parent’s divorce causes a separation of both the family, as well as the animals. Movie Web says that the three pets embark on their journey to reunite with the whole family

If you always thought you knew the voice of Chance, you aren’t crazy, it was none other than Michael J. Fox. Dog Tag Art labels this movie as the perfect movie for animal lovers in general. 

5. “All Dogs Go to Heaven” (1989)

Talk about nostalgia! “All Dogs Go to Heaven” comes from the same studio that brought us the classic — “An American Tail” and “The Land Before Time.” If you’ve seen either of those, you know our number five spot is good! PureWow claims that it is a dog-movie staple, and we agree!

Dog Tag Art admits that this movie is a little intense for a kid’s movie, but they did make them a little different in those days. In a story of revenge, Charlie the dog is killed by a gambler when he returns to Earth. Of course during his journey, he falls in love with a human.

There are actually several scenes that may upset your child, like the imagery of a little girl drowning and kidnapping. Decide wisely. According to Country Living, they weren’t messing around when they made this movie. For an older audience, though, many moments are touching and perfectly showcase the bond between us and our dogs.

6. “Turner & Hooch” (1989)

Tom Hanks and a giant French mastiff solving crimes together? You heard right. Get ready to feel all of the feels for “Turner and Hooch.” Movie Web labels it as yet another movie that 

Hanks plays a detective who takes in a furry new roommate when his colleague is mysteriously murdered. His routine is turned upside down when he inherits his dog Hooch. The pup proves to be quite helpful in Hanks’ police work when he’s able to identify the killer. Drool and all, the pair turns out to be the perfect pair that was meant to be, according to Dog Tag Art.

Like any mystery, “Turner and Hooch” does not disappoint with plot twists. Country Living informs that the movie was “released in the heyday of buddy cop comedies with a fun twist.” A reboot series inspired by the movie starring Josh Peck was released in 2021 as well for a modern take on the classic story.

7. “Best in Show” (2000)

Hey, they can’t all be sentimental tear-jerkers. A mockumentary may be an unexpected list item, but “Best in Show” helps you to appreciate the crazy lengths the screwball characters will go to make sure their dog wins Best in Show at the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. PureWow compliments the all-star cast, and we’re talking about the humans.

Fetch and Fab says “meet the people behind dog-show dogs.” Dog-show-obsessed owners do exist and you will be a witness to that throughout this movie. The movie takes on a different format as a documentary, so you can see all of the behind-the-scenes antics that comes with entering a dog in a show. 

No doubt there is a lot of tension among the eight-plus dog owners, but the result is a hilariously entertaining depiction of what it is like to be a show mom. Rotten Tomatoes calls it “a fine example of writer-director-star Christopher Guest’s gift for improv comedy.”

Editor’s Pick: “Marley & Me” (2008)

StudyFinds’ Associate Editor Sophia Naughton could not fathom ending this list without mentioning “Marley & Me.” Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star as a newlywed couple who take on a mischievous yellow Labrador named Marley. The movie follows Marley’s life from puppyhood to a senior dog as the couple’s family grows. Even when chewing everything in sight, as Labs are notorious for, Marley is part of the family and is there for every moment.

“When I think of dog movies, my mind immediately goes to ‘Marley & Me,'” says Naughton. “It truly showcases how a dog becomes a part of the family that cannot be replaced. I clearly remember the first time watching it with my little brother. We both were bawling by the end. As a former owner of a yellow Lab, this movie seriously hits home. Just be sure to brace yourself for tons of laughs followed by an ending that definitely yanks on the heart strings.”


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Janelle Davis

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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